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Furloughs, taxes and my own portrait

Kudos to Joe Mulholland, district attorney for the South Georgia Circuit, which includes Bainbridge, Camilla and Cairo. After reading my suggestion that state government rather than schoolteachers take a furlough, the DA told me, "Some of us in government have already taken your argument to heart."

Mullholland says district attorneys have furloughed all employees a day a month since last fall. In June, prosecutors will be furloughed three days. To offset the financial burden his own employees are suffering, Mullholland has applied his monthly county supplement to their pay.

While that won't rectify the amount of money they are already losing because of the furloughs, the DA said, "I believe the gesture has gone significantly to showing our office that we are all in this together." That, my friends, is a class act.

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The world lost a beautiful lady recently. Ann Clendenin, wife of my former boss, retired BellSouth CEO John Clendenin, never wore her husband's status on her sleeve. She was nice to everybody, no matter their rank. Corporate spouses don't always act that way, but she did. Ann Clendenin will be missed.

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Nobody with a lick of sense runs for statewide office in Georgia without paying homage to Tommy the Barber in Northside Atlanta. For years, his shop has been a traditional campaign stop for candidates. A good word from Tommy the Barber reaches more people than American Idol.

But like most of us, he is sick and tired of empty campaign promises about cutting taxes and improving public education. Tommy wants specifics. He said he is going to ask each candidate who visits to sign a pledge as to how they are going to live up to their campaign promises. If their actions don't match their rhetoric, Tommy vows he will make sure that everybody in the state knows they reneged on their promises. And he can do it. If any candidates for statewide office are reading this and plan to drop by Tommy the Barber's place, don't say I didn't warn you.

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I will let him catch his breath after this do-nothing legislative session before I call Commissioner of Revenue Bart Graham, as many of you have requested, and find out (a) when we can have the names of the legislators who haven't paid their taxes, (b) why businesses and individuals owe the state almost a half-billion dollars in back taxes and (c) why somebody's fanny isn't already sitting in jail the way we plebeians would be if we decided not to pay our taxes. I'll let you know what I find out.

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And speaking of some people being more equal than others: A lawsuit against Georgia Board of Regents Chairman Richard L. Tucker, a prominent Gwinnett businessman, by United Community Bank in Blairsville was resolved recently, but Gwinnett Superior Court Judge Ronnie K. Batchelor has sealed virtually every document in the file at Tucker's request.

According to Batchelor, details of the settlement were sealed because disclosure of the allegations would cause Tucker "intimidation, insult and embarrassment." Poor baby. And then there was Paulding County Superior Court Judge James Osborne, a former law partner of House Speaker Glenn Richardson, who sealed Richardson's divorce papers in "the interest of the parties and their children." Who are these judges kidding? People like Tucker and Richardson catch breaks that you and I wouldn't get because we aren't politically connected. Lawyers love to blather about equal justice under the law. Let's see them explain these two contemptible decisions.

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Finally, if I am blushing, forgive me. My beloved Grady College of Journalism at the University of Georgia is unveiling my portrait on April 27. It will hang in the C. Richard Yarbrough Public Relations Laboratory there. What makes this even more special is that the portrait was painted by my art instructor, Kristopher Meadows, who belies the adage, "Those who can, do; those who can't, teach." Kris Meadows does both extremely well. I just wish he had made me look more like Brad Pitt, but there are some things even skilled artisans can't do.

E-mail columnist Dick Yarbrough at yarb2400@bellsouth.net.